Good character, Helen Keller once eloquently stated, often comes from facing and overcoming difficult times. It doesn’t take much to remain poised and even-tempered when life goes well. But a person’s real character shows when he’s faced with trials and tribulations. The hard days give us a chance to chisel away at our weaknesses and come out stronger in the end. Without struggles in life, we wouldn’t have much of a reason to develop ourselves.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
So, how does positive thinking correlate with developing excellent character? You might feel as if it all boils down to the actions you take. However, anything that manifests in reality begins first inside the mind. Negative thinking easily defeats you. But if you can look at the bright side during even the fiercest battles, you can come out victorious.
No one accomplished anything worthwhile in history without having a determined, optimistic attitude. The mind tells our bodies what to do. So if you want to achieve a better reality, you must begin with correcting any defeating thoughts that creep into your brain. Not only does thinking positively help you accomplish more, but it makes you a better person. Below, we’ll explain more about how optimism can develop your character.
Therapists explain how good character and positive thinking go hand-in-hand:
If you go about life thinking bad things will happen at every turn, then you’ll likely experience precisely that. Our minds create our realities every second, so if you feel predominantly negative thoughts, you’ll start to have more unpleasant experiences. Simply put, people who approach life more optimistically tend to attract better experiences and have better health as a result of lower mental stress.
Studies prove the correlation between positive thinking and better health, citing the following benefits:
- Increased longevity
- Decreased rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Lower rates of sickness from the common cold and flu
- Better mental and physical health overall
- Improved cardiovascular health and a far-reduced risk of death from cardiovascular diseases
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
- Lower anxiety and stress levels
- Better quality sleep
As you can see, positive thinking comes with a plethora of mental and physical health benefits. If something as small as changing the way we think can impact our health so drastically, think of the vast implications, it could have on an even deeper level. Perhaps thinking differently could also make us better people and create a ripple effect on humanity as a whole. Let us explain a few ways that being positive could transform your life and give birth to a whole new you.
Positive thinking gives you the courage to face adversity.
Negative thinking doesn’t make for a very productive, fulfilling life because it stands in the way of everything you want to accomplish. It destroys your willpower and steals your joy. When you think that you’ll get through a situation no matter what, however, you tell your brain that failure isn’t an option for you. As we said earlier, a good character comes from facing challenges, but if you’ve already made up your mind that you’ve lost, then you don’t give yourself a chance to grow from the experience.
Positive thinking gives you the courage and strength to overcome anything that life throws at you. While it may take time to transform your mindset, you will start to see the effects in your life. Our brains are malleable, proven by something called neuroplasticity. We can change the operating systems in our minds anytime we want to and rewire our brains for better outcomes in life.
You start seeing others as equals rather than your competition.
Positive thinking also promotes community, because when you change your mindset, your compassion increases as well. If you live in a negative frame of mind, you likely only think about getting by and doing what you need to survive. From a positive point of view, you begin to see the beauty of life and how everything connects on an energetic level. As a result, you’ll start to honestly care about others’ well-being instead of treating them as your competition.
Positive thoughts help reduce cortisol and stress levels in the body, making it easier to connect with and relate to others. It takes down the walls we build around ourselves for protection and instead fosters a sense of comradery. Basically, when we feel good inside, we will want to share that joy with others. This happiness can have a ripple effect on others because smiles and cheerful attitudes are contagious.
If we can use positivity to unite us instead of promoting negativity that divides us, why would we consciously choose anything except the former? Just some food for thought.
Positive thinking promotes good character because it makes you more responsible.
When you have a negative mindset, you may tend to blame others for your problems. However, in a positive frame of mind, you know that you control your reality, and you assume responsibility for everything in your life. However, your life looks now like you’ve created it in one way or another. By thinking positively, you’ll have the willpower and drive to change anything you don’t like, and at the same token, feel gratitude for the good things.
In other words, positive people feel a sense of inner power because they know they can choose to experience something better whenever they choose. They write their story, and they don’t shift blame to anyone else. By owning up to their mistakes, they can analyze what went wrong and learn from it. When you blame others, you remain stagnant because you always have someone else to blame for your actions.
You are less likely to ruminate and will focus on solutions instead.
Negative people tend to mull over what went wrong, as studies prove. This lowers your immune system, creates unwanted stress in the mind and body, and in general, keeps you stuck. Positive people take the lessons they learned from unfortunate experiences and transform them into opportunities for the future. In other words, they remain even-minded in both good and bad experiences. They know that you can’t have light without a little darkness sometimes, and they don’t sweat the small stuff.
Focusing on solutions helps you build character because you know that nothing can bring you down for too long. You’ve made up your mind that you will overcome anything that stands in your way, and you’ve trained your brain to look for solutions. Positive thinkers make good leaders because of this personality trait as people look to them for answers to complex problems.
Unfortunately, humans focus more on negative than positive experiences because we needed to look out for threats in nature to survive. Our brains haven’t yet evolved from this primitive state to adjust to the modern world, so that is why we have to work so hard at reframing our thoughts. Below, we’ll go over a few science-backed ways to become more optimistic.
How to retrain your brain to think happy thoughts:
- Recite positive affirmations. A lot of the way you think comes from your self-talk. If you tell yourself defeating thoughts all the time, you don’t give yourself much of a chance to witness things in a positive light. Instead, tell yourself things like, “You have what it takes to get through this.” Or, you say, “You’re a strong, capable, amazing person.” As you recite these affirmations either silently or out loud, you’ll start to notice a change in your perspective after a while.
- Expect good things to happen. One way to trick your brain into thinking positively is to keep your attention on positive experiences. If you make it a point to re-focus more on positive events, the bad parts of life will start to take up less mental space.
- Think of obstacles as opportunities rather than burdens. When you look at everything that happens to you as a lesson, you become empowered and shift your experience. Instead of being a victim, you see yourself as an observer of what happens to you. You apply what you’ve learned and use it to build a better, more aware version of yourself.
In life, we always have an amazing chance to build on our experiences, and those who practice positive thinking know this. Therefore, they use negative experiences as simply tools to expand their awareness and chalk it up as important lessons learned. They give thanks to every person and situation they come into contact with because they just view life as a never-ending school, where we advance after we learn certain things. Positive thinking builds character because it shifts your mindset from that of a victim to a powerful creator of your own destiny.